I was interested to read in yesterday’s bus thread that the problem with buses is that “Yuppies won’t ride buses.” I don’t normally ride the bus because I work from home frequently and live near a Metro station, but I certainly take it some of the time. For example, yesterday morning the WMATA Ride Guide told me the fastest way to get where I was going was to take the 52/54 bus down 14th Street rather than to take the Green Line and then walk west after getting off, so I took the bus and plenty of other yuppies seemed to be on board (what’s more, if yuppies aren’t on the D2 route then who is?)
My sense is that the main determinants of yuppie bus usage are the determinants of everyone else’s transit choices — it all has to do with the speed and cost of taking the bus versus the speed and cost of getting around some other way. If you internalize more of the costs of driving & parking and implement strategies to make bus service faster and more frequent, more people will take the bus. Obviously, a bus can’t be made to go as fast as a grade-separated heavy rail system, nor can it carry as many people, so it’s better to build heavy rail where you see potential for a lot of demand, but there’s not some law of nature keeping people off the bus.